Summary: Sharing the Gospel can be so very intimidating. For many, it is an activity that is approached with fear and trembling, or not approached at all. Why is that, do you think?
Sharing the Gospel can be so very intimidating. For many, it is an activity that is approached with fear and trembling, or not approached at all. Why is that, do you think? For some, they don’t believe it really is their “job” to lead people to the Lord – it’s the preacher’s job or the evangelist’s job. For others, they have no idea what leading someone to the Lord actually looks like and, since they don’t, they don’t know where or how to even begin – so they don’t. There are others – and, this is the most common – who are afraid of being rejected or mocked or laughed at or ridiculed, so evangelizing is something they avoid like the plague. There are other considerations people have for not sharing the Gospel, but these are the most common.
The problem is, we are specifically told to "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations (Matthew 28:19);” and, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation (Mark 16:15).” Some will accept us and our message, others will not. How do we handle that? See, the point is that we are to go and do it, trusting God for the rest. We sow; He causes the seed to grow. We have our part, He has His. If we don’t do ours, how is He to do His since His is in response to ours?
We saw in our study last time that God supplies all of the needs of those who are spreading the Good News of the kingdom. Those needs include knowing how to handle the responses we will get. Jesus deals with that as specifically in today’s study as He has with the rest of the “Do’s and Don’ts”.
So, let’s look at what Jesus lines out for us in our text today. The first order of business, Jesus says, is to find out who is “worthy” in whatever city or village they enter. Keep in mind that they are only going into Jewish towns and villages at this point. What does He mean by “worthy”? The word literally means “deserving; suitable”. Deserving of what, the Gospel? Who is worthy of the Gospel? No one, right? What about “suitable”? What kind of person might be “suitable” to hear and receive the Gospel?
In the Hebrew language and teachings, there is a premise that the one who is “given to giving alms is a worthy man.” In fact, the word for worthy and the word for giving of alms is the same. Jesus isn’t telling them to find out who is worthy of the Gospel, for no one really is. What He is telling them is find out who is given to kindness and charity. Once they find that person, they are to latch onto them and draw close to them. These are the ones who will be most likely to receive and accept the Gospel. They are the ones who will be most likely to extend charity and hospitality to these traveling preachers. They are also the ones who will be given the opportunity to see the Gospel lived out in a deep and personal way by observing the lives of the disciples.
Jesus is also telling them that it is important to find out the reputation of those with whom they choose to be most closely and intimately associated with. It would not do to have the name of Jesus Christ sullied because the only people His messengers associated with closely were those with a bad reputation or known for being evil or wicked. This is not to say that they were to have no association with those kinds of people, and it didn’t mean that they weren’t to witness to them or minister to them. Jesus spent a great deal of time with people of bad reputation. Bet, they were not His intimates – they were not the ones who lived with Him and traveled with Him and ministered with Him. What Jesus wants us to know and understand is that the people that we associate the closest with have the character that will be most closely associated with us. We are not our own; we are ambassadors, representatives, of the Messiah. We must take care to a large degree how He is represented in our lives. This is not a license to be spiritual snobs by any means. It is, however, an injunction to be careful about choosing out intimates.
Once they find that worthy (or suitable) person, they are to accept his hospitality and stay in his home until they leave that place. Jesus wanted the disciples to take care with how they appeared to the people they came into contact with. It would seem as if they were difficult to please if they moved from house to house. They were to be content with where they were and not seem ungrateful or snobbish by seeking better accommodations. They were to continue to bless the household of the one who had been first to extend his hospitality to them. They were not to make it appear that they were greatly concerned about the level of their own comfort by moving to nicer, more comfortable accommodations instead of remaining where they were. They were also to do nothing to besmirch the reputation of their host; they were not to make it look as if there was something wrong with him or with what he had to offer. Being fussy or nitpicky is unbecoming of a disciple of Jesus Christ – even the appearance of fickleness is to be avoided. “Let your yes be yes and your no, no…” Sound familiar?